Sunday, February 16, 2014

Syracuse Again

For the second time in a week the Orange came up as winners when all bets would have had them as losers.  On Wednesday, down by one, Tyler Ennis heaved in a 35 foot desperate shot to beat Pittsburgh. On Saturday night against North Carolina State, Syracuse dug themselves in deeper, but managed to prevail.

With less than a minute to go North Carolina State, leading nearly the entire game, held a one point advantage and had the ball.  Syracuse extended its zone and a member of the Wolfpack bounced the ball off his sneaker and it careened out of bounds. This gave the Orange a chance to again be victorious when defeat seemed to be likely. This time, however, it appeared as if Syracuse would not take advantage of the opportunity. Tyler Ennis drove to the basket but while doing so, swung his arm to ward off the defender. The official called a foul on Ennis giving the ball back to North Carolina State with seconds to go.  Streak over, undefeated season over?

Not yet.

The Orange forced a bad pass, grabbed the ball, and C.J. Fair made a layup in the final seconds to give Syracuse the cardiac victory.

I wrote in my last blog that despite the Syracuse perfect record to date, the Orange will not win the national championship. I stand by that. And now,  I'm not sure that Syracuse will even advance very far in the tournament.  It seems to me that opponents have figured out how to beat the Orange. Be patient, work the ball around the zone until there are less than ten seconds left on the shot clock and then find your shooter for a three. Make a decent percentage of the threes, play good man to man defense, and you are in the contest.

In both the Pitt game and the NCState game, the opponents became sloppy with the ball at the very end of the contest. Otherwise both teams defeat Syracuse. North Carolina State is not even ranked. Other teams will have better shooters. And other teams will have "bigs" who when they get the ball down low will not be shy about taking the ball to the basket.

The Orange are not deep.  Last night each starter played at least 35 minutes out of 40. C.J. Fair played all 40.  Against tougher teams the key players may get fatigued or foul out.

Syracuse may not get to the final four, and I would not be startled if they don't make it to the Elite eight or Sweet Sixteen.

On a peripheral note, the game last night was not televised. I saw it on my computer as it streamed across the screen. The technology is such now that the quality of the picture on my screen was as good, if not better, than the quality of the picture on either of the two very good sets I have in the house.  Pretty soon you won't even have to find the url to watch the game. You will just be able to say aloud in the vicinity of the laptop: "Syracuse Game" and grab your beer.

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